A Second Chance for a First Impression at Winter X Games

When I heard that Winter X Games would be held in Aspen, Colorado I thought, I missed the Dew Tour this year in Breckenridge. I could still get a second chance at redeeming myself. I cringed at the memory of the last one I had attended.  

A year ago, my husband Danny and I had finished lunch and decided to ski over to the halfpipe to check out the competition. The women had finished their semi-final round so we continued to the base of Peak 8 to see what kind of “swag” (free stuff), Dew Tour was handing out. Tents were set up by various companies giving out samples of energy bars and power drinks. Some had contests to win snowboards. I ducked into one where a couple of pro snowboarders sat behind a long table autographing posters. I couldn’t believe it. One of them with a pen in hand was Louie Vito.

“I voted for you when you were on Dancing with the Stars!” I said.

“Oh, thanks!” said Louie.

“I was bummed when you didn’t make it to the finals, but you had amazing fan support.”

“I was surprised I lasted so long,” he said, flashing me his gazillion-watt smile.

He signed a poster for each of my kids who are about his age. “Thank you so much!”

When I came out of the tent I beamed at Danny. “Louie Vito is signing posters!”

“What’s that brown stuff all over your teeth?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” My heart sank.

“You look like a tobacco chewer,” said Danny, smiling.

“WHAT?” My heart plummeted to my lower gut. “I bet it’s the beef stew I ate. Oh crap!” While scrubbing my teeth off with my ski mitten, I thought back. I’d raced outside after eating, slapped on my skis and did the Happy Skier smile all the way down the mountain. I had been talking to Louie Vito with gravy all over my otherwise pearly whites. Gross!

One year later, I mentioned the Winter X games to my husband Danny. Our kids had been invited to the event and would be staying with friends in Basalt. He made a reservation at a condominium in downtown Aspen. I joked about restoring my reputation with Louie Vito. The chance of meeting him at an event attended by over 100,000 people was slim to none, but I looked forward to skiing at a couple of the mountains resorts and checking out the Ski Big Air and Snowboard SuperPipe competitions.

We stopped in Breckenridge Thursday night and woke up to a snowstorm Friday morning. Joining other snowboarders and skiers, we “yahooed” while making fresh tracks in champagne powder up to our knees. I was thankful that it was Friday and not the weekend. The crowds would  “pack it out” the next day. Our adventure hadn’t even started yet.

We returned to the car by 1:00 PM and continued our journey to Aspen. After settling into our condo just a block from the gondola, we made plans to hit the Winter X Games the next night.

Another Wild Rider!

Saturday we skied Aspen Mountain and met lots of wonderful people on the gondola and chairlifts. I was impressed by its challenging runs and breathtaking views.

As the shadows grew longer, I looked forward to the main event. After dropping off our skis back at the condo, we hiked a few blocks to the bus stop that would take us to Buttermilk and the X Games. We met hundreds of others waiting for a ride. As cold as it was, the rowdy crowd seemed unaffected. On the crowded bus, many sang songs and cracked jokes while others chatted it up.

Thousands were in attendance Saturday night. This gigantic event made Dew Tour look like a backyard barbecue. A temporary town had been created by trailers, tents, and scaffolding. We joined the throngs of young people at the bottom of the halfpipe and watched the Ski Big Air competition. Being adjacent to it, we could view the skiers in the air. I kept thinking, “How did they get the nerve to do that jump the first time. Whoa!” Breckenridge resident Bobby Brown took gold!

Kai Mahler won silver!

I really do have white teeth!

We moved over to the next venue and ran into our children and my daughter’s boyfriend. Even in ski clothes the cold air finally got to us. After waiting in a 30 minute line, we took a more subdued bus ride back to Aspen.

The SuperPipe!

The next morning we skied Aspen Highlands and then caught a bus to the Games. The venue was slammed with spectators waiting to see snowboarders like Danny Davis, Shaun White, and of course, Louie Vito compete to qualify in the SuperPipe finals which would be held later Sunday night.They closed the entrance to the base of the pipe just as we were running up, so we took photos and videos from the sideline. I shot one of Louie as he sped by on the back of a snowmobile that would take him back up to the top for another run. I flashed a white toothy grin even though he never looked over. I figured that would be as close as I would get.

I didn’t bother taking one of Shaun White since he channeled Michael Jackson by wearing a full black ski mask and it was almost 40 degrees…sheesh!

Then I noticed spectators walking over the catwalk to the base of the halfpipe.

“Come on Danny. Let’s go!” We dashed to the entrance. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were. With Danny pointing the way, I slid up close to the front of the crowd and got some great videos and photos.

When they announced that Louie was up next, the crowd went wild. The enormous TV monitor had shown an interview with Louie and his new trainer, John Schaeffer, who also worked with Apolo Ohno. He said that Louie started his training by working out in a 6-week boot camp. When he finished he had dropped ten pounds, had gained a lot of muscle and was down to 4% body fat. Much to the young crowd’s dismay, Louie said he stopped drinking alcohol and had quit the party scene.

He had a qualifying run and cheers went up once again.

And then I saw my chance!

It seemed as though he was thinking, “Oh, no. Are you that lady with the brown teeth?”

Being incredibly gracious, Louie greeted the crowd and signed autographs. Many fans had pictures taken with him.

The girl right ahead of me leaned over the gate while the guy beside me snapped a photo. Louie looked right at me. I asked, “Would you mind if we had our picture taken together too?”

“Not at all!” he said.

As I leaned in, I said, “This is going to be in my bloooooooogg,” just as the photo was taken.

I ran back to Danny. “Can you believe it?” I couldn’t wait to see the picture and then I wanted to cry. “Oh no! I am hideous. I was talking when the picture was taken and it’s all distorted!”

“It’s not that bad,” Danny said.

“Well at least Louie knows I don’t have brown teeth.”

susie talking with louie vito distorted face
Why do I talk while having pictures taken?


Louie Vito and my makeover
Much better.

In case you haven’t been on planet Earth the last day or two, Shaun White won the Snowboard SuperPipe with a perfect 100! That guy sure knows how to get air.

Click here for the complete results of the Men’s SuperPipe

Click here for a recap 

Stay tuned for more adventures with this Wild Rider!

All photographs and videos by Susie Lindau

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75 thoughts on “A Second Chance for a First Impression at Winter X Games

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  1. This was a terrific story, thank you for sharing it. Its so funny how things like that happen, but the upside is, at least you got have a great experience out of it.


  2. What a cool story! I should have known the Winter X Games would be on around this time, I’m sorry I missed Shaun White win. I wrote a poem about him for a competition and I’ve only watched him on tele once. Those guys are amazing!


  3. Great story! The winter games sound like so much fun. I tried learning to ski in Vermont in college and it was icy and windy and coooold. Always wanted to give it a shot in Colorado. Glad you made a good second impression on Louie. 🙂


  4. Wow! Envy, envy! Louie Vito is adorable. I wish him the best of luck in his future career. He is a really great snowboarder. I sometimes wonder if those guys curse their luck to be born in the same decade as Shaun White. But then, an athlete like White ups everybody’s game. Amazing stuff!


    1. Thanks A!
      I overheard someone say that Shaun White is the favorite right now and can do no wrong. Apparently some boarders tried out some new tricks, but the judges wouldn’t award the deserved points..Maybe at some other event they will be recognized for their talent as well.
      Shaun is the best at getting air, but others have caught up with the tricks..He has his own private halfpipe that he practices on.


  5. So you waited almost a year to tell your tale until you have a happy ending? I must admire your perseverance! And Louie Vito on his blog wrote, guess with whom I had my picture taken over the weekend?


  6. Wow, Susie, I really enjoyed this post. All of this is so alien to me. I find it fascinating and I admire how brave you are skiing those steep slopes, dealing with such cold temps! I had a good laugh about your brown teeth. That’s something I would do! And how cool that you had a second chance to see Louie – and get your pic taken. And it’s true that we don’t take good pics when we’re talking. You’re still cute. What a fun post!


    1. Thanks Lynn! I couldn’t believe that with such a large crowd I had that chance. He really is one of the most friendly and down to earth snowboarders and yet his name became a household word when he was on DWTS!


  7. Do not dis my man, Shaun White! He’s from my town and went to the same school my daughter graduated from!

    Still, that Louie Vito is super cute…

    You are hilarious. I’m sure Louie remembered you and was so grateful you weren’t covered in gravy. Way to redeem yourself, blooooogggggg and all!


    1. That is so great that your daughter knows him! Every time I have seen Shaun White compete he has always worn a mask and never engages the crowd.. It’s just an observation. Maybe he is shy……

      Can you imagine?! Such a crazy, but great weekend! That’ll teach me to taaaaaaalk when I have my picture taken….Hahaha!


      1. I think (in Shaun’s case) that it’s a matter of him believing the hype. He used to be so sweet and would talk to everyone. He even did a telethon appearance for the traditional high school (he went to the alternative high school that allowed independent study since he was gone so much). He was so awesome and giving. Of course, that was before the gold medals and fame. I do think it changed him, but he’s still our Shaun and we love him.


  8. Wow, almost as good as being there, thank you for the ride!

    We had a brush with Half Pipe fame at the recent Dew Tour in Breck – our son had to follow around as the official photographer for – Ripperoo!


  9. What a GREAT story! I remember watching Louie on Dancing with the Stars. At that time, I didn’t know who he was. I was familiar with Shaun White, and I believe he now has a Target Clothing Line that many of the 1st and 2nd graders wear. Some googley eyed thing.

    How fun for you. Wow, Louie looks fantastic!

    Did you read my post about the “lipstick on my teeth” during an interview? It’s 3 or 4 posts ago…I can commiserate! (He probably didn’t notice.) I talk too, and get caught looking funny in photos. Horrible!

    Since you took so much time, Louie, should stop in and make a comment here. 🙂

    Lake Forest, CA


    1. Thanks so much Ray! Well, it really happened exactly that way and I still can’t believe I got to see him again. I wonder if he thought I had gotten my teeth capped in the last year…Hahaha!


  10. Oh Susie, you are so fortunate to get to be in Colorado and skiing!
    We used to go and take the kids to Mammoth Mountain all the time.
    I have fond memories of those trips!
    So glad you had a great time! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!! 🙂


    1. I really appreciate the State that I live in. This morning we are waking up to a foot and a half of snow! Yippeeeeeeee! Snow Day!
      Thanks Karen. Let me know if you ever come here to ski~ ; )


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